With Democratic candidate Joe Biden closing in on a 2020 election victory, senior figures in the Republican party are split on whether to back Trump as he pedals baseless claims about election fraud.
In the last 24 hours Donald Trump has spread falsehoods about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, having claimed mass election fraud against him – for which there is no evidence.
In a press conference broadcast last night the President said: “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”
The narrative has prompted anger among some Trump supporters who believe election fraud has taken place. Yesterday Facebook removed a fast-growing group in which supporters of US President posted violent rhetoric. The group called for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote,” and had grown to 365,000 members in a day.
Senior Republicans have been split on publicly backing Donald Trump following his false claims about election fraud.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell appeared to back Trump’s claims that some votes could be “illegal”, although he made it clear every vote should be counted. In the past few days Trump has at times suggested counting should stop.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the President and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended Trump on Thursday evening and echoed his claims of a rigged election: “I’m here tonight to stand with President Trump.”
GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel claimed: “Democrats and the media” want to “ignore clear irregularities” and “rush to call states as won”.
Kevin McCarty, a Republican representative in California, told Republicans “do not be silenced” in an interview with Fox News, where he appeared to unequivocally back the President’s claims.
Senator Mitt Romney, himself a former presidential candidate, tweeted a small statement that neither backed Trump’s claims nor entirely dismissed them.
Other Republicans did not mince their words when it came to criticising Trump’s baseless claims.
Republican representative Adam Kinzinger urged followers to “stop spreading debunked misinformation”, adding: “this is getting insane”, going entirely against what Donald Trump has claimed.
According to US news site The Hill, Republican Maryland governor Larry Hogan said there was “no defence” for the President’s comments “undermining our Democratic process.”
Representative Will Hurd said the President was “undermining our political process”, describing Trump’s rhetoric as “dangerous and wrong”.
Other Republican leaders have so far been silent. CNN reported Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, as well as Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Todd Young of Indiana – all members of Senate GOP leadership – did not respond to requests for comment on supposed election fraud.